I visited Montreal for the first time for a week at the end of October. First I have to say I found the city charming, safe, vibrant and easy to get around by the metro and bus - buy the weekly pass for only $13.50CN. The people were also wonderful and unbelievably friendly and helpful. Even those who spoke very little English attempted to answer our questions in our own language. We like good food but not fancy, expensive restos so of the places we tried the following are our favorites. For coffee (Big Bang), latte, light eats (salads - green and pasta) and Kilo patisserie delights, the Presse Cafe (east end of St. Catherine in the Village). In fact get your Kilo desserts which are just heavenly anywhere but at Kilo's (either location) which is none-too-clean and has so-so coffee drinks. I saw their cakes in cafes all over Montreal. Loved Schwarz's smoked meat. Got take-out, took it back to our apartment and pigged out! Far preferable to the noisy atmosphere and over-crowding at Schwartz's. Tried the smoked meat at Ben's in downtown Montreal just because we were there, it was late and we were hungry. It was like comparing very inferior grocery store deli counter corned beef to the real thing in a Jewish deli - Schwartz's is light years better than Ben's! And thanks to all the Chowhounds who recommended Beauty's for brunch. Even though it was a cold and rainy Sunday afternoon, we still had to wait a half hour to get a table. But was it ever worth it! All three of us had the Beauty's 2 Special ($8CN)- a HUGE platter filled with yummy home fries, the best scrambled eggs, two strips of very good bacon, two delicious sausage links that were perfectly spiced and made from very finely ground meat (veal?) and two fluffy pancakes. Accompanying this feast was coffee and a plate of toasted bagels. The owner, over 80 and still going strong after 60 years in business, visited with us several times and treated us to his own wry sense of humor. Definitely a not-to-be-missed Montreal experience. Another favorite was the Atwater Market. The cheese vendors were sampling their wares and we came away with a Quebec farm cheese and a creamy Brie that were both very special. We bought a large bottle of Maudite ale (Unibroue) and went upstairs to Premiere Moisson. Wow, at least 20 types of fantastic artisanal breads and a vast array of cakes and pastries. The lines were long but fast moving because of the efficient set-up. We bought 3 scrumptious breads, sat down at one of their cafe tables, pulled out our Maudite and cheese and had one of the best feasts of the trip! I love Montreal because it is so adult - they don't get uptight about drinking or sex. Very refreshing after our American puerile attitude. There are many more places I want to try so a return trip is on the agenda. By the way, can anyone give me directions (from a metro stop) to Faema's, a cafe in Little Italy that was rated to have the best latte in Montreal? A place not to bother with is Movenpick - lots of hoopla with simulated outdoor markets, etc., but just mediocre food that is priced too high. Decor is great but that's it. I thought the same about the one in Boston (Copley Square). We stayed at an apartment operated by Roger Bontemps B&B which was very inexpensive - $56US per night for 3 bedrooms, kitchen, eating area and one sofa TV area. Clean but certainly basic. Quiet part of the village. Not fancy but safe. Thanks to all Chowhounds for their recommendations.
P.S. Don't miss the Montreal Botanical Garden!